Barcelona symposium workshops, Part 2


So, a long post to finish up the workshop pages from the Urban sketchers symposium in Barcelona this summer. The left page is notes from a demo of digital sketching on iPads, by Josú Maroto and Monica Cid – interesting and fun to watch. I use an iPad at work, but never really caught on to sketching on it. It was interesting to see how these guys go about it, made me want to try it too.

The right-hand page above, and the spread below is from Sagar Fornies workshop Lighting the City: Lights and Shadows amid Excitement and Serenity, in which we worked a lot with light and shade, more than local colour. Sagar also works a lot with coloured lines to strengthen the feeling of light and shade, warm and cool, foreground and background, and we were all sponsored with a 4-colour Bic rollerball pen to try this.


The concept of coloured lines isn´t new to me, but I always used the same colour for all lines in my drawings. Sagar uses different colours depending on if he wants a warm or cold impression, or if things are close or far away in the image. This is something I have to try to work on more, it does give a stronger effect than I would have expected. I can´t decide whether to keep these pages like this, or to finish them a bit more, to really try the concept… Unfinished pages are good for the memory. We´ll see.

The next workshop I took was James Richard´s Life between Buildings: Capturing the Energy. James managed to put into words things that I have been doing without really thinking about it. For example, during our first exercise, we drew a crowd on Placa Catalunya. James explained how your eyeheight hits all the people in the crowd at the same height of their bodies. So, if I´m sitting down, for example, I´m at the height of everyone´s waist (see sketch below), which means I know that I have to put all the waistlines on the same height to make a convincing crowd.


I have been drawing crowds before, I know this is the way it works, because I can see it when I´m out sketching. But MAN, is it good to get things into words sometimes, to become aware of what you are doing! For some reason, I drew this crowd quicker than I ever have, because suddenly I had a more conscious way of thinking about what I was doing!


We tried doing quick thumbnails too, and a full spread sketch of the whole place. This workshop was such a treat (well, they all were, but for different reasons…) for putting into order what was laying around in a mess in my head before. : )

Inbetween workshops I also caught Ch’ng Kiah Kiean´s demo on how to draw with a twig and ink. It was fascinating to watch him work, and I shot a little video of the demo here.

I will only post one page each from the last two workshops I took, because I did most of the work there in a sketchbook that is too big for the scanner, and those pages are even less finished than the others, so I´ll save them for myself.

Veronica Lawlor´s Designing Barcelona was a treat to the eye and the mind, both because of her fantastic teaching, and because the workshop took place in front of four of the most famous modernist buildings in Barcelona. Drawing these masterpieces is of course a challenge, but Veronica made it feel like a possible task after guiding us on how to simplify and pull out the most important features of each building.


One thing that I will always bear in mind from this workshop is Veronica´s demo on how she works with thumbnail sketches. She examines a subject by feeling her way around it with the pen (or whatever tool she chooses), almost trying on the language of shapes in the subject, to find a way to capture it and really express what it is all about. Impressive.

The last workshop I took in Barcelona was Capturing Space through Form and Color, with Marion Rivolier. I admire Marion´s way of capturing vast scenes directly in watercolour, and trying out her way of working was a real eye-opener, so interesting and inspiring – though very difficult. I use watercolour in a very different way than she does, and it was hard to look away from my own habits while trying on hers.


One of the things I really appreciated in this workshop, was that we were working with the exact same scene in each exercise. I think I may have heard a few participants whispering that they would have loved to change scenes between the sketches, but actually, I think it was brilliant to do the same scene over and over. That way I could see more clearly the difference between the exercises, what the change in colours and shades really did. I had some serious problems with my watercolours not drying fast enough, so I didn´t manage to finish any of the sketches. Should have brought one or  two more sketchbooks to this one…

All spreads 27 x 21 cm, various pens and watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook.

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